3 Perfect Folding Electric Bikes for Commuters
Folding bikes really are the only practical solution when there is nowhere safe and convenient to store your bike – either at home, at your destination – or while riding a train between the two.
Folding bikes have come a long way since originally being introduced. They are now much easier to fold and to carry. The addition of an electric motor brings both advantages and disadvantages.
The disadvantage is that electric bikes are heavier than normal bikes because of the addition of a motor and the battery.
There is not much that can be done about the weight of the electric motor. With batteries the simple trade off is weight for range. The more range you want, the larger and heavier battery you will require.
One advantage of an electric motor on a folding bike has to do with wheel size and gearing.
To fold up small so as not to be cumbersome, folding bikes tend to have smaller wheels ranging from 20” to 26”. Small wheels mean a bumpier ride and awkward gearing. It can be difficult to support both good speed and efficiency on the flat with easier pedalling when going up a hill.
Power assistance largely solves the gearing problem. (Note: Unfortunately rear hub motors do not solve this problem completely.)
Below we recommend specific electric bikes that have some features that may be of relevance to you. Click here to jump immediately to these recommendations. Or, continue reading to understand the thinking behind these recommendations.
The first question you need to ask about a folding bike is how much is weighs. This is important because likely you be lifting it up and carrying it frequently.
Some holding bike can be rolled while folded - either behind you like carry-on luggage or in front like a baby pram. With these bikes, you may only be lifting your electric bike to climb steps.
The second question relates to how easy the bike is to carry. If you are carrying an object to your side (like a briefcase) the rules of thumb are that it should be:
no taller than 1/3rd your height, and
no thicker than about 10”.
If it is taller than this, it may scrape the ground. If it is thicker, it may rub against your leg. To compensation you will have to lift it up a bit, and lean a bit to that side - both of which make the bike substantially more tiring to carry.
The Brompton cycle (listed below) folds down to a size that you can conveniently carry to your side. Few other folding bikes fold this compactly.
Eovolt’s solution is to allow the wheel to rotate freely when the bike is folded, meaning that you can roll it in front you similar to a push chair for children . Obviously, if you have to carry such bikes up steps, doing so it a little more awkward.
1st Option - Brompton H2L 2 Speed Electric Folding Bike (£2,885)
Although at the top range of prices for electric folding bikes, the Brompton H2L is the only folding bike that Which? Magazine rated as a Best Buy. Not only was it one of the lightest electric bikes on the market (16.6 kg), but it is robust, folds easily (within 10 seconds) and compactly (56 x 58 x 27 cm), sports a high-quality smooth motor, and has good range.
The only criticism of this bike is that the control panel is not located on the handlebars, making switching assistance a bit more complicated.
The bike comes in two heights: 1015mm (M2L) and 1075mm (H2L) -- and comes in two gearings: 2-speed and 6-speed.
2nd Option - Eovolt Confort Electric Folding Bike (£1,997)
If the Brompton is out of your price range, the Eovolt Confort is an excellent alternative. It features larger wheels (20” instead of 16” on the Brompton) making for a slightly less effort, faster, and smoother ride. And it comes standard with 7-speed gearing.
In a clever touch, the battery is integrated into the seat post making charging much simpler.
Although rated 9.3 out of 10 by Bike Review magazine, it is slightly heavier (18 kg) and more cumbersome than the Brompton. When folded, it is noticeably larger (84 x 72 x 46 cm) making it make cumbersome to carry and to stow away.
3rd Option - Eovolt City One 16” Electric Folding Bike (£1,397)
Although perhaps the cheapest, reasonable folding e-bike on the market, the Eovolt City One weighs in at an impressively light 14kg. As with its bigger brother, this bike does not fold up as compactly as the Brompton (58 x 75 x 42 cm) and thus can be slightly cumbersome to carry or to stow away.
And it has a noticeable more restricted range: 31 miles - as opposed to twice that for its larger brother (62 miles) and 45 miles for the Brompton. With that said, this bike is very good value for money. Bike Review rates this bike as 8.4 out of 10 and customers rate is 4.6 out of 5.
Similar design feature to its older brother. The battery is integrated into the seat post making charging much simpler.
Are electric bikes legal in the UK?Yes, electric bikes are legal in the UK. Your confusion may arise because electric scooters currently are not legal (except on private property). With that said, your ebike may need to be registered, taxed and insured. The law right now defines an "electrically assisted pedal cycle" (EAPC) as a bike with a motor that: * is no larger than 250 Watts; * stops providing assistance above 15.5 mph; and * only assists when you are pedalling. If you are 14 years or older, you can ride an EAPC everywhere you can ride a bicycle without a license and without needing to be registered, taxed and insured. However, if your ebike exceeds any of the above, then currently it is viewed as a motorcycle or moped. It will need to be registered, taxed and insured; and you cannot ride in cycle lanes. The Department of Transport is undertaking a Future of Transport Regulatory Review, which is looking at these definitions: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/future-of-transport-programme
What is the fastest electric bike?No your ebike will not stop you going faster. If you can pedal 45 mph (and congratulations if you can), your ebike will happily let you. What it won't do is help you get to 45 mph. See, ebikes are designed to stop assisting you when you reach 15.5 mph. For most people this is not an issue. Cycling beginners typically cycle at 12 mph over short distances. More experienced cyclists may average 15-16 mph over a good few miles. In summary, ebikes are not meant to propel you faster than you might normally cycle. If you want to go faster than other cyclists, then you should look for a moped or motorcycle.